BAKU, July 12. /TASS/. The dialogue on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement is very intensive, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at a news conference after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Baku on Tuesday.
"Today, there is an intensive dialogue on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are taking active efforts to solve the problem," Mammadyarov said.
According to him, meetings, negotiations help the parties find solutions to the outstanding issues. "There is the understanding that it is necessary gradually, step by step, to remove all the unresolved issues and problems", the Azerbaijani foreign minister said.
Mammadyarov said it was necessary to hold detailed, substantive negotiations on the conflict settlement. "We hope that the consistent, intensive discussion of the outstanding issues remaining at the negotiating table will make it possible to look to the future with cautious optimism," he said.
The decision on the next meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Karabakh settlement issue may be taken after the Russian foreign minister informs the Russian president on the results of his trip to Baku and Yerevan, Mammadyarov added.
"The decision on our next steps, including on the next meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will be taken on the results of Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Yerevan and Baku," he said.
Referring to France’s initiative to host the meeting, the Azerbaijani foreign minister said that it was of no principal importance for Baku. "It is of minor importance for us whether the next meeting is held in France or in some other country. Most importantly, the talks should be intensive and yield results," Mammadyarov said.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was the first zone of inter-ethnic tensions and violence to appear on the map of the former USSR. Even almost a quarter of a century after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Karabakh remains a so-called 'frozen conflict' on the post-Soviet space, as the region is the subject of a dispute between Azerbaijan and the local Armenian population that draws on strong support from fellow-countrymen in neighboring Armenia.
In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the government in Baku and Armenian residents, which resulted in the region's de facto independence. In 1994 a ceasefire was reached but the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia remain strained ever since then.
Russia, France and the U.S. co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which attempts to broker an end to hostilities and the conflict.